New age risks warrant that your hardware security needs to be top notch. This post reviews the importance of hardware security and how to ensure a holistic development workflow.

You can suffer attacks in the form of mass distributed-denial-of service or DDoS, data theft, network hacking, privacy invasion, etc. You may address them with a software-based security system, but they cannot defend you against the hardware kind attacks. 

Let’s understand how hardware security works:

1 – Make a plan 

For hardware security, it vital to have a plan and execute security assurance assessments time and again, for any third party components and intellectual property or IP. When you have a full check done on risk assessment, it can help you avoid purchasing third –party IP from an unreliable source. 

Third-party designs can be compromised somewhere down the line. It is crucial to look into this aspect to avoid getting exposed to vulnerabilities. Look before you source. 

2 – Specify your security requirements 

It is crucial to think about the part of the design needed for further ‘threats modelling’. Do this during the product requirement stages in a semi-conductor design. Also, carry out penetration testing or fuzz testing later in the SDL stage. This step will confirm the identification that further threat modelling is required during the design or architecture level. 

3 – Architecture or Design stage 

It is vital to conduct ‘threat modelling’ on parts of the design in this stage. This step is vital for security that is identified during the first step. 

Threat modelling is the process that considers the potential capabilities of an attacker. It helps to recognise what the aim of the attacker is behind the attack, and in which way the attack may take place. Plus, it also helps to know what resources will be applied to perform. 

Here, all kinds of threats have to be identified to prevent them from happening during the security system’s implementation. 

4 –The implementation part 

It is essential to follow the threat models put forth in the earlier stages and design stage. This way, you stick to the threat models when implementing the design. 

The usage of some automated hardware security medium can prove beneficial. It will ensure safe implementations with security features that are based on the threat models. Automation can also improve all manual efforts involved in the process 

5 – The verification rule 

A valid functional verification is crucial for the semi-conductor industry. Security verification is equally crucial for SDL. 

All the security features implemented must be duly verified at the verification stage so that protection is ensured. Manual reviews are also in use here, and it can be done smoothly with the help of automated hardware security channels. It reduces the efforts required in the manual steps. 

On receiving the silicon chip, it is essential to conduct penetration or fuzz test depending on what security requirements are needed, as discussed in step no 2. 

6 – Release and feedback 

It is essential to check, conduct, and verify all the steps to ensure that the SDL has been properly followed and endorsed by the security chiefs’ handling the security part. This assurance is vital before the silicon chip is shipped forward to the users. 

The aftercare response is equally important. Staff handling security support should be available on time if any vulnerability or attack is identified outside the threat models. 

technician-repairing-inside-hard-disk

Types of hardware attacks

1 – Rowhammer attack 

This attack is more of an exploitation of the closeness. It applies to high-density DRAM. As silicon wafers have increased transistor count and reduced sizes, memory cells in a modern DRAM chip are close-placed. Even the neighbouring cells are of the same values. Attackers take advantage of this closeness, by altering the value of memory content of neighbouring rows. 

2 – Side-channel attack

In this type of attack, a secure system is attacked indirectly through insecure subsystems, outside of the security structures. Take, for instance, a password-protected account on Windows can have its files accessed if the hard drive is removed from one device and plugged into another. 

Here, the attacker owns your folders and files. Even the users’ password is no longer required to bust open an account; security and confidential data being compromised. 

Importance of hardware security

Internet of things is everywhere. The number of devices connected to the internet is growing in number worldwide. People are using laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more. The number of businesses operating through the internet have also increased. Even cloud storage is gaining grounds. 

The importance of security has become manifold. Hardware security protects your machine from peripheral hardware from thefts, electronic intrusions, and damage. Also, it helps with the following 

1 – Protection from the inherent vulnerabilities of the operating system 

2 – Management of memory in a restricted and controlled manner 

3 – Controlled by smart and efficient IT personnel                     

4 – No degradation of the performance of the desktops 

5 – No consumption of resources 

6 – Security appliances optimised for maximum security 

7 – Others 

Anti-malware can minimise the risk and cost that any organisation may face due to unwanted attacks. This enhanced protection can be ensured through features that can prevent malware from attacking your system. 

Security systems with hardware and software security tools help protect both users and information and the device. 

For the final word

Availability and advancement of technology has made things easier; simultaneously, it can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it provides you with all the facilities to function; on the other hand, it exposes you to vulnerabilities. If you think about security, then attackers are also thinking of moves. Invest in a robust system that will prevent hacks on confidential data and server access. The above hardware security measures can go a long way in preserving data integrity and security, and keep operations running at full steam.